Seattle is called the Emerald city because it is surrounded by greenery. It is a city that never stops raining. But wait, don’t let the rain deter you from considering this amazing city as your top exchange destination. Home to Starbucks, Boeing, Microsoft, Alaska Airlines and Amazon, you will find yourself drown in coffee and technology. It is my hope that this post will benefit peers who are considering the University of Washington (UW), or are already in the midst of departure preparations. Best of luck!

Seattle Waterfront

What made University of Washington my top choice?

My consideration criteria included (1) Mappability of Modules, (2) Quality of Education, (3) Location and Period of Exchange, (4) Finances and (5) Travel Plans. Let me explain each component…

(1) Mappability of Modules: In contrast to National University of Singapore’s semester system, the UW operates on a quarter system. The partnership NUS Business School has with Foster School of Business, UW, allows students departing for Semester 2 to complete two quarters. This arrangement allowed me to complete six courses, which nicely value-add to my degree.

(2) Quality of Education: UW is ranked the best business school in the Northwest, and graduates are hired by the firms mentioned above. Professors are highly qualified with industry experiences. For instance, my Futures and Options professor had been teaching at UW for over 32 years. Other professors have had previously taught in NUS, SMU or other parts of Asia.

(3) Location and Period of Exchange: The quarter system offered me 5.5 months in the United States, comparatively longer than most other partner universities. I love this arrangement because it provided me sufficient time to understand the culture, meet new people and experience life in America. Seattle is a peaceful city without all the clutter of New York and Los Angeles, and the seclusion of Texas and Michigan. Not mentioning the apparent racism. I felt that Seattle gave me the balance I was seeking for and I have no regrets. Furthermore, I can use the Amazon Prime Now app to order groceries and have them delivered within 2 hours, without premium prices.

First Starbucks

(4) Finance: With all the hidden fees such as a compulsory four-figures health insurance, three-figures orientation fees and exorbitant housing fees for destinations such as Los Angeles or New York, UW in Seattle is extremely cost friendly. Apart from housing and food, the only fees due to the school are International Student Fees of US$45 and Unlimited Transportation Pass of US$80 per quarter. With proper budgeting, you can fit everything (excluding additional travel trips and purchases) within a neat budget of approximately SG$13,500 (Airfares: SG$2200, Student Fees: S$350, Travel Insurance: S$350, United States Visa S$550, Housing S$5500, Meal Plans S$2450, Additional Meals, Groceries and Living Expenses S$1500, Preparation Expenses S$600)

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(5) Travel Plans: UW Foster School of Business does not have Friday classes, which means every weekend is a long weekend. Get the hint? Plus, you have full 9 days for Spring Break travels. Seattle is 4 hours away from Vancouver, Canada by Amtrak, 2 hours away from San Francisco/Las Vegas by flight and 5.5 hours away from New York by flight. You can also plan a route trip to Leavenworth (Little German Town) or Mount Rainier. The University of Washington light rail station opened in March 2016 and offers direct services to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in under an hour – this means you can have peace of mind while navigating to school when you are super jet-lagged upon arrival.

US J-1 Visa Application Process

Once you have obtained your DS-2019 form, you can proceed to make payment for SEVIS fees online and MRV fees. You will also need to complete the DS-160 form online. Do ensure that your passport photo for submission is US-size. The process can be tedious so I would recommend to research and prepare your documents way before hand. Kindly refer to

City View From Columbia TowerKeep a look out for more tips and travel information in future posts!

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